Radio-controlled cars speed along the dirt path of twin, 20,000-square-foot off-road racetracks at RC Hobby Shop, spurred on by shouts of encouragement and furiously twisting thumbs. Too colossal to fit inside the building, the tracks embody RC Hobby Shop’s serious approach to having fun. Inside the 9,400-square-foot retail space, stacks of toys line the aisles and beckon kids and hobbyists with battery-operated modern gadgets and timeless classics such as yo-yos and board games. Model makers of every age can stoke their creative sparks with detailed modeling kits that reconstruct classic cars, elaborate train sets, and Lilliputian crime scenes.
With its circle of cushy chairs and iron-wrought footstools, the sewing area at Sugar Land Yarn Company bears a striking resemblance to a pastoral living room, where yarns of all colors fill a bowl resting on the coffee table and cubbyholes lined along the walls. Shawls and scarves hang in display to inspire future knitting projects, and a library of patterns and manuals demonstrates various techniques, such as stringing together a baby sweater without bursting into tears of joy. The shop’s wool-wizards lead classes in a wide variety of topics, allowing beginners and experienced knitters to socialize as they create wearable and decorative soft goods.
Bubblegum pink. Sugary treats. Rhinestones and glitter. Sweet and Sassy’s stylists pamper moppets during shrunken-down spa treatments spun with these elements. As tots lounge on tangerine pillows, kid-calibrated manicures and pedicures bejewel their keratin shields with sparkly nail art and adorn their favorite digits with rings and toe rings. Facials slather visages with gentle, sweet-smelling concoctions, and ear-piercing services add appropriate glint to kids' facial regions so that they can stop lodging beads in their nostrils. For birthday parties, celebrants can arrive in the spa’s pink limousine before strutting down the runway in Sweet and Sassy’s glittery gowns.
Q&A with Victoria Treadway, Owner of The Music Connection of Pearland
Tell us about your business.
We are a family-owned-and-operated music studio. We teach all styles of music, from jazz and blues to pop and classical. We teach individual lessons and group classes, primarily in piano, for ages 2 to adult. Piano is the most sought-after instrument we offer, [but] we also teach drums and guitar.
What makes your business stand out?
[First of all,] we are the only music studio in Pearland to offer group classes. They are more affordable, more fun because of the setting, and create a more independent student. We have our own curriculum, so we are able to give songs that are more well known and fun. [Second of all,] we are the only music studio in Pearland to offer Mommy and Me and preschool piano classes. Our program focuses on the piano and teaches theory through characters and different activities. Once the students have completed the different levels, they'll know the notes on the keyboard [and be able to] identify the dynamics of music, find the rhythm and recognize note values, and play beginner songs.
What inspired you to run this business?
This business has been in the family for 15 years. Once I [the daughter] got involved when I was going through college, I saw the potential to move from a business operating from home to a music studio. The reason we started the classes was for the student that wasn't self-motivated. Some students need a more fun environment than one-on-one lessons. I also strongly believe in starting your children in music lessons as early as you can to help children with their fine-motor skills, developing perfect pitch, and loads of other skills.
What is your most popular offering?
Group piano classes—once a week for 45 minutes—[and] individual piano [lessons, held] once a week for 30 minutes. [We also offer] preschool piano classes [and] Mommy and Me piano classes, [both held] once a week for 35 minutes.
What is the best reaction you’ve ever gotten from a customer?
One of our students [was] in shock over the amazing progress her son had made over the course of a year. He started as a beginner, and the next year he was playing songs like Solfeggietto and Moonlight Sonata. She recommended so many students to us. We called her our biggest fan.
What’s your favorite part about your job?
Watching the students' progress and teaching them different styles of music. It's rewarding to see our students develop a love for music.
Anything else you want to add that we didn't cover?
We care about each and every student that comes through our door. We never give up on someone who takes a little longer than average to develop their musical skills.
Novel Approach gives social scrapbookers a chance to add a few new pages to their artistic portfolio while befriending like-minded crafters. In the shop's classroom area, 15–20 would-be memory keepers and card crafters can gain creative insight while upgrading their scrapbooking powers from mind-blowing to super-mind-blowing. The Pizza and a Six Pack class ($40) lets students draft a half-dozen pages and munch on pizza, and the Breakfast Club option ($60) involves devouring a continental breakfast and composing a 20-page 12"x12" album. Novel Approach also offers various card classes that deal with stamping and paper techniques ($25–$30), paper-bag book classes ($30), and more. Visit the schedule for class times and information about what supplies you'll need to bring along. Though today's Groupon is only good toward classes, budding crafters and bookmakers can also peruse Novel Approach's inventory to locate crafting supplies and then buy the ones that look friendly for 10% off the regular price on the day of their class.
For Meredith McCord, looking at a piece of pottery brings back decades worth of memories. McCord started The Mad Potter in 1998, and since those early days, she's used her kiln to immortalize countless special moments. She traveled to hospitals to capture the footprints of newborns, helped a young man create a dessert plate with the words "Will you marry me?" emblazoned across it, and auctioned off items for charity. Yet some of her fondest memories center on the day-to-day interactions with customers, specifically when they return to pick up their fired pieces and utter three words of amazement: "I did that?"
The Mad Potter has since expanded into three Houston-area locations, where children and adults come to paint their own works of art or create replicas of their ancient ancestors' garden gnomes. More than 500 bisqueware items line the shelves of each studio, including coffee mugs, plates, and figurines. Staffers then help visitors select from more than 54 available colors of paint and supply them with everything else they might need, including brushes and stencils. The staff can even take things over and create more intricate designs?while still consulting closely with the customer. Whatever route a person chooses, there's always time for a sip of wine or beer; the River Oaks location sells wine and beer while Bellaire and Woodway maintain a BYOB policy.